Conservative groups that have suffered due to being tagged on the controversial “hate map” of the Southern Poverty Law Center say the organization has no moral authority to label others as it grapples with racial discrimination and sexual harassment allegations of its own.
“Today’s SPLC is aggressively anti-Christian and morally bankrupt, both inside and out. It has long lost any claim as the moral arbiter of ‘hate,’” Jeremy Tedesco, senior counsel and vice president of U.S. advocacy for Alliance Defending Freedom told The Christian Post.
The ADF is an alliance-building legal organization based in Arizona that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith. The group unites attorneys, ministry leaders, pastors, and like-minded organizations in a common purpose — a shared commitment to defending religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage and family.
The SPLC was founded in 1971 to take on legal cases related to racial injustice, poverty and the death penalty. The organization, which began tracking the Ku Klux Klan in the early 1980s, has since broadened its field of threats to include conservative groups like the ADF whose ideology it does not agree with.
Morris Dees is co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The vaunted civil rights organization currently lists the ADF as a hate group among 20 other organizations in Arizona because of their sexual politics.
In a report in The Washington Post Magazine last November, the SPLC noted that the ADF filed an amicus brief in the 2003 landmark Supreme Court case that struck down a Texas law criminalizing gay sex.
Lawyers for the ADF wanted to uphold the state’s right to decide whether “it is reasonable to believe that same-sex sodomy is a distinct public health problem,” the brief noted, because “it clearly is.”
“It’s really bad that you want these people thrown in jail for consensual activity,” Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project told The Washington Post. “It’s literally barbaric in our opinion. And that was the thing that really pushed ADF over the top to us.”
Earlier this month, the nation’s wealthiest civil rights organization fired its co-founder, Morris Dees, and president, Richard Cohen, a week later, due to allegations of sexual harassment and racial bigotry.
Bob Moser, a former writer for the SPLC who is gay, wrote in the New Yorker on March 21 that the organization which has amassed an endowment of nearly half a billion dollars is a “scam.” A part of that scam was to also use the widening scope of its “hate map,” to raise funds.
“When the S.P.L.C. hired me as a writer, in 2001, I figured I knew what to expect: long hours working with humble resources and a highly diverse bunch of super-dedicated colleagues. I felt self-righteous about the work before I’d even begun it,” Moser wrote.
He quickly lost faith in the organization after realizing that leadership did not practice what the organization preached when it comes to issues of race and gender.
The logo of the Southern Poverty Law Center. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons
“Nothing was more uncomfortable than the racial dynamic that quickly became apparent: a fair number of what was then about a hundred employees were African-American, but almost all of them were administrative and support staff—‘the help,’ one of my black colleagues said pointedly,” Moser explained.
“The ‘professional staff’—the lawyers, researchers, educators, public-relations officers, and fund-raisers—were almost exclusively white. Just two staffers, including me, were openly gay,” Moser continued. “The work could be meaningful and gratifying. But it was hard, for many of us, not to feel like we’d become pawns in what was, in many respects, a highly profitable scam.”